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Home » Archives » September 2007 » Old and Grey's
[Previous entry: ""Free to the Chosen" Makes a Nice Rallying Cry"] [Next entry: "Another Reason to Sharpen Every Line in Your Spec"]

09/14/2007: Old and Grey's

Kathy in New York City writes to ask a question about aging spec scripts. She's got a Grey's Anatomy spec that is being quickly rendered antique by plot and cast developments on the show. She wants to know if she needs to update the script, or throw it out, or simply hand it over with the caveat that the show has changed out from under it. This is a common problem with the current surfeit of arc-driven shows. The shows change quicker than one can write the specs!

To answer the question, you're probably best off replacing the script with an all-new effort, Kathy. That way, you'll still have the old one and you can certainly hand it over with the "this got old" explanation in case someone wants to see it, but you'll also have something brand new.

To answer the broader question, this is one of the reasons that the current trend is to write original material. It's more in demand anyway, and it doesn't present this problem. If you really want to write a spec of a show that already exists, you might want to pick one that is somewhat less arc-y. House, for example, although it has character arcs, usually relegates them to a smaller percentage of the script and is therefore easier to keep current.

Kathy also mentions that produced Gray's episodes have also now touched on some of the plot elements that were still virginal and pristine when she used them in her spec. Hmm. Depending on the degree of similarity, this is of less concern to me. If they're just themic similarities then you certainly don't have to worry about anyone thinking you lifted them (if they even know the show thoroughly enough to notice the overlap), and you can take them as a sign that you're thinking on the same wavelength as the paid writers. If, however, these themes have now been so completely explored on the show that your spec feels like it's replowing old fields, then you probably should retire the spec anyway on the grounds of sheer exhaustion.

You should pretty much always have a new spec (for either a produced show or an original) in some stage of the process: either plotting or writing or polishing. If you never shut the factory down, you worry a lot less about a fire in the warehouse. Or something like that.

Lunch: bowtie pasta, pesto sauce


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